Legends of Diving Articles

 

Logan Sargent “Skeet” LaChance
Bahama Venture Cruises Founder

Skeet was born in 1932 in Chicago, Il. As a young child, he contracted polio, but with the fighting spirit he would be known for throughout his life, successfully fought it off. The only mark it left was a curvature of his spine that didn’t become obvious until his later years.

While growing up and attending elementary and high school in Kenilworth, Il, he and a classmate, Steve Mullins, developed an avid interest in magic shows, even charging to perform at local kids’ parties.

After being sent away to a boarding school in Canada, he gained the nickname “Scooter,” due to his speed while excelling in track and field.

It was also at this time that Skeet became interested in underwater exploration. His youthful efforts consisted of borrowing his mother’s hot water bottle and going to Lake Michigan to see how long he could stay under the water and see something of interest. This initial spark of curiosity would prove to illuminate the path his life would later take.

After returning from school in Canada, Skeet joined the U.S. Air Force in 1952, where he worked as an aircraft and engine mechanic. He eventually

became attached to the Navy where he learned to dive. He served for four years, part of this time during the Korean War in Guam. He held fond memories of Guam and her people throughout his life due to the time he spent there.

Returning to Chicago, Skeet’s growing interest in diving became apparent when he opened his first dive shop in Evanston, Il, called “Skeet Marine.” Evidently, during his stint in the military, his nickname evolved from “Scooter” to “Skeeter” to “Skeets” to “Skeet,” which stuck with him for the rest of his life. His shop was successful

Skeet with his wife, Debbie

and he enjoyed taking his students up to Racine Quarry in Wisconsin for training where the water was cleaner and calmer than that of Lake Michigan. During this time, he also worked nights as a lifeguard at the Playboy Club and would sit in as a drummer on Rush Street from time to time to help make ends meet.

LaChance had a passion for motorcycles and even while still living in the Chicago area chose it as his only mode of transportation…no matter the weather…even the harsh Chicago winters didn’t stop him from riding. After marrying Phyllis Clark in 1959, they worked together to develop his dive business. Three children were born to them between 1960 and 1964, but that didn’t move Skeet to buy a family car…no, he merely added a sidecar to his motorcycle!

As his dive business grew, he decided to expand his dive trips by chartering a boat out of Ft Lauderdale and taking his divers to the reefs of

the Bahamas. He spent time in the Exumas, Eleuthera, Abaco, and Nassau, but eventually chose Bimini as his favorite dive spot for his charters. He loved the people of Bimini and took a young child from there under his wing, eventually bringing him into his own family. As he spent more time in the Bahamas, he founded a new company, Venture Cruises, in 1967 and bought a boat of his own which he called The Highland IV. He moved his family from Chicago to Ft Lauderdale so he could spend more time with them.

Skeet was very involved in this venture and for years ran the Highlander with only himself, a cook, and a mate for a crew. As the boat could accommodate 21 divers, they had their hands full. LaChance

taught all of his children to dive and ride motorcycles and the children spent their summers with their dad, exploring the waters of the Bahamas.

While visiting the Bahamas in the 50’s Skeet had spent time in Abaco and been very impressed. He bought a piece of property at the time, but it wasn’t until 1979, after marrying Jane Downey, that Skeet sold the Highlander and decided to move his family there and build on that piece of land. His dive business, Dive Abaco, became a great success and he was invited by the Ministry of Tourism to represent the early dive industry in the Bahamas. He was active for years in promoting tourism in that country.

LaChance was always quite aware of the fragility of the reef systems and was an early advocate of protecting the reefs of Abaco from over fishing. This was certainly a sensitive subject for the locals who had been fishermen for generations, but Skeet eventually won the support of many of these local fishermen.

After Skeet’s oldest son, Michael, died tragically in a motorcycle accident in 1982, he made some changes in his life. He had a desire to slow down and see more of the world and by 1990 he had sold Dive Abaco and planned a motorcycle trip to Alaska. It was on this trip that he met with an accident that crushed his leg and required five years of rehab and rebuilding his bike before he finally was able to return home to Abaco.

Once back in Abaco, Skeet returned to diving on a small scale and, with a friend, founded the Scurvy Few Motorcycle Club and eventually married Debbie Curry. He used his Motorcycle Club to contribute to the beloved community that had taken him and his family in so many years earlier. He started the Toys for Tots program in Abaco that has grown to provide Christmas toys to every community on the island.

Skeet had a gift with people and over the years he not only adopted children into his own family but also served as a mentor for so many that came to value his wisdom and advice. To these many beloved friends he became known affectionately as “Pop.”

In his later years, his health began to fail, forcing Skeet and Debbie to move to the States in 2007 to be closer to his doctors. Despite health challenges, however, he was able to help open a chapter of the Scurvy Few in Ft Lauderdale, and to continue to ride his last motorcycle, “Sally” until he passed away March 31, 2010. Skeet led a full life and his favorite expressions “swim to the bow of the boat” and “rubber side down” still resonate in the hearts of those who knew him as a diver, a biker, or just a good friend
.

Nikonos in hand, Skeet evangelized photography to all creatures.

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Bowling Green OH, 43402
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